Everyone wears many hats at a startup, and you rarely know what skills will benefit you most. And when hiring, it can be hard to tell who will turn out to be the most flexible asset to your company.
So I asked nine entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) to share their most unexpectedly valuable hires in the last year and why.
There’s a time and a place for publicity, and our company was there. The exposure to the right groups, at the right time, with the right message has proven to be invaluable in growing our business and getting us to that next level, which we had been struggling to do.
One of the hardest things as the founder of a growing company is learning how to let go of every detail. We hired an assistant for our team who does scheduling, research gathering and follow-ups.
It’s the kind of work that’s really valuable but eats up time I could better spend in other places. New hires who can fill gaps and make better use of time that’s eating up the schedules of existing team members turns out to be essential.
A Developer/Lawyer Combination
At Royalty Exchange, we sell private securities in an eBay/eTrade like marketplace, so have a heavy focus on both legal and tech. We desperately needed in-house counsel for the legal side, as well as another solid developer.
Initially, we hired a developer to work on expanding our trading platform and surprisingly, she also went to law school! After working on the dev side and producing great work, we decided to let her work on the legal aspects of the company too.
Best decision ever! Everyone at startups wears multiple hats, but she wears a top hat and a beanie. The hiring was an unexpected “two birds with one stone” scenario and helped us cover two major needs.
An HR Director
We finally decided we needed to make the jump and hire a full-time HR director. We initially worked with an HR director who managed HR for eight companies under our investor’s portfolio. This was a great way to start, but now that we have a team of over 70 FT and PT employees we needed someone who could focus on our human resources full time.
I didn’t realize how many HR duties I was taking on as a founder until we decided to make this hire, and I’m thrilled to offload some of this work onto someone who can put more focus on it and therefore improve a lot of things we are doing.
We hired two interns, 15 and 18 years old, who are sisters from Pakistan. They were users on the Miss O & Friends website and, like many users on the site, applied to be interns.
Not only are they incredibly smart and talented girls, but they are also hyperaware of everything going on in the tween and teen girl world from fashion to upcoming bands, from singers to new actors and actresses. They are also social media whizzes and the articles they write and tweet end up bringing the most traffic to our site. They are completely on target with everything they do and have become invaluable to the company.
A Remote Employee
We hired a remote employee who has turned out to be phenomenal. There’s nothing really unique about the hiring process, but I think we knew to take a more hands-off approach once we saw what she could do.
Basically, we just had to get out of her way and let her run. We are normally very mentorship focused from day one, especially with remote folks. But in this case, we found we had something special so we gave her room to shine.
An IT Manager
A good IT person can help replace three or four costly positions. We hired an entry-level IT person who turned out to be extremely valuable for us. He helped us scale our systems and identify solutions to bottlenecks that had plagued us for years.
A Content Creator/Wordsmith
I met Clint Evans at a local entrepreneur group event. I’m a tech and strategy guy, so one thing missing for me was the ability to weave my ideas and communications into a beautifully written tapestry. Clint is helping me do that. Because of this I’ll be able to reach and help more people across the globe.
An A/B Testing Freelancer
We hired a freelancer to mine our data, come up with and execute A/B tests across our site. I was skeptical at first but we have seen a 50+ percent increase in conversion rate after running our first few tests. I recommend everyone invest in an in-house or freelance A/B testing expert.
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